Sunday, November 1, 2015

2016 Guided Cruise

It has been my privilege to create an itinerary for an 11 day cruise on the ship Halmar Bjorge, operated by Northern Light Charters. They asked me to put together an itinerary that includes some of my favourite islands, and the cruise runs from May 21 through May 31, 2016. The weather, of course, will determine where we can go, but the goal is to visit the following islands:

Sandray and Pabbay in the Sound of Barra
The Monach Isles
Flannan Isles
Boreray and Pabbay in the Sound of Harris
South Rona
Eigg and Canna of the Small Isles

The following describes the walks we hope to do on each island. Guests can, of course, come along or explore on their own. For more information, and to book, refer to the cruise description on the Northern Lights website.

Pabbay (Sound of Barra)
We’ll land at Traigh Ban, the white sand beach on the east side of Pabbay to visit the village ruins; Taigh Bochdan (the house of spectres); and the burial mound with its Pictish Symbol Stone. If time permits, we’ll make a climb to the top of the island.
Pabbay seen from the sea (left) & Pabbay village and burial mound
Options are to visit the settlement and chapel site at Bagh Ban, and then wander around the east side of Sandray; or to visit Shader on the northwest side of Sandray (where some of the raiders lived), and then make a circular walk to Dun Sandray and the top of the island.
Sheader village ruins on Sandray (left) & Vatersay seen from the top of Sandray
We’ll land on Ceann Ear or Ceann Iar, and if the tide is out walk across the sand-bar to Shivinish.
Looking towards Shillay from Ceann Iar (left) & the tidal sandbar between Ceann Iar and Shivinish
We’ll explore the village and burial ground, then make a circular walk over the low pass to Loch Uidemul and then walk south to see Treasure beach via the Norse mills.
Scarp village (left) and Mol Mor (Treasure Beach)
If conditions permit, we’ll land on the lighthouse island of Eilean Mor, where the Lightkeeper’s mysteriously disappeared in 1900.
Eilean Mor (left) and the Flannan light
Pabbay (Sound of Harris)
We’ll explore the abandoned village of Baile Lingay, see the Pabbay Cross and St Mary’s Chapel, and if time and tide permits, we’ll climb to the summit of the island to see the view over all the islands in the Sound of Harris.
Pabbay Church ruin (left) and cross
Boreray (Sound of Harris)
We’ll make a circular walk around the island to see the old Maclean village and Cladh nam Mhanaich, the Monk’s Field, the traditional burial ground of the early monks who worked in the Western Isles. Also to be seen are Cnoc a’ Chaisteil, the site of a Norse stronghold, and the ruin of the Free Church of Boreray, last used in the 1920s.
Boreray beach (left) & settlement area
South Rona
If conditions are good, we hope to make one of the best cross-island walks in the Hebrides. Landing at the north end we'd pay a visit to the lighthouse before making the four-mile hike down the island to Big Harbour via the abandoned village at Dry Harbour. On the way we may be able to pay a visit to Uamh an Fhuamhair, the Cave of Giants, also known as Church Cave, on the remote eastern side of the island.
Schoolhouse ruin (left) and the South Rona light
We plan to hike to the ruins of Sgorr nam Ban-naomha, the Celtic Christian nunnery below the cliffs, a seven-mile round trip that involves descending a narrow sheep-track down the cliff-face.
Canna Church (left) and the Nunnery
Once ashore on Eigg we’ll crawl into Massacre Cave and/or climb to the summit of the Sgurr.
Loch nam Ban Mora and The Sgurr (left) & Massacre Cave

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